The direction to follow

Alfonso Pascale

In the novel Le città invisibili (Invisible cities) by Italian author Italo Calvino there is a passage providing what is in my opinion, an excellent portrayal of the concept of enterprise innovativeness.

“Marco Polo describes a bridge, stone by stone. ‘But which is the stone that supports the bridge?’ Kublai Khan asks. ‘The bridge is not supported by one stone or another,’ Marco answers, ‘but by the line of the arch that they form.’
Kublai Khan remains silent, reflecting. Then he adds: ‘Why do you speak to me of the stones? It is only the arch that matters to me.’
Polo answers: ‘Without the stones there is no arch.”

Innovating means giving a new shape and order to pre-existing elements (the stones). In order to create novelty we need meditative thinking, i.e. the type of reasoning that conveys the meaning behind all calculations and can therefore indicate the direction to follow. Calculating thinking alone, though indispensable, does not suffice. Furthermore, the future should hold no fear: we must not live in dread of the bridge tumbling down.

The future should not be a source of anxiety or uncertainty just because it is beyond our reach.

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